Democracy in Peril in Romania: What Is Actually Happening and How You Can Help
As American/European/other citizens, we have a duty toward our country and the free world: to fight tyranny and injustice, wherever they may be.
I am writing today to ask you to take a stand regarding the current fight against the rule of law and freedom in Romania, a European country freed from communism almost 30 years ago, in a Revolution that ended with over 1,100 dead. Romania is now a democratic country, a strategic partner of the United States, and a member of NATO and of the European Union. Romania has adhered to a set of values and principles that free world is based on: democracy, liberty, pluralism, rule of law. The Romanian society has internalized and deeply believes in these values, and the millions of Romanians who have protested over the past year had a clear message to the entire world: “we care about democracy and justice, we want to belong in a free and democratic Europe, and we care about the transatlantic partnership.”
Romania is now at a turning point: its freedom and democracy, gained with so many sacrifices in 1989, can be lost in the hands of a gang of corrupt politicians. The Government of Romania is pushing changes to the legislation that governs the justice system, after considerable progress in the fight against high-level corruption over the past decade. The effects of this fight are felt directly by the highest-ranking politicians in Bucharest and around the country, who are under investigation, arrested, or serving time in jail. This is the obvious reason why they now want to soften the legislation and bring the judicial system under their political control. Adopting the proposed so-called justice reforms would be a flagrant violation of the principle of checks and balances and a fatal assault on Romania’s democracy, equivalent to a state capture. We have already seen this unfold in Hungary and Poland, and, of course, we have every reason to believe that the recipe has been carefully prepared in Moscow.
The people of Romania have made tremendous sacrifices in order to get where they are today, and they are prepared to go the extra mile in order to defend liberty – literally. Recently, a small group of citizens walked for 450 miles, from Transylvania to Bucharest, just to show how determined they are and to encourage others to get out and make their voices heard.
As background, in January 2017, the Romanian Government attempted to pass an emergency executive order to decriminalize corruption-related offenses. After mass mobilization, people in Bucharest and other cities flooded the streets for 27 consecutive days of protests that peaked at over 600,000 protesters in one night. The Executive Order was dropped but then the ruling coalition submitted several bills in Parliament. The effects of the proposed legislation would be even more damaging. They are counting on people’s fatigue and on the lack of international pressures at a time when the global agenda is so full of critical issues.
But Romania and its struggle to stay democratic should indeed be on top of your mind, for all the reasons noted above. As one of your constituents, I respectfully ask you to send take a public stand in favor of Romania’s liberal democracy and continued commitment to Western values. Please consider submitting a formal resolution on this matter, send word to the Embassy in Romania, and send a public message to the Romanian Parliament asking them to preserve and defend democracy and rule of law, along with the country’s firm alliance with the US and the EU.
In the words of one protester:
“Everybody wants a free Romania. People are protesting not to get higher salaries or retirement benefits. We are protesting for freedom, we are here for democracy. We want a European country. Do not let us be the next Hungary or the next Poland! We rely on you, citizens of the world, to turn your eyes upon Bucharest, upon the entire country, and let the people who are in power here know that democracy and freedom always prevail.”
Please help us keep Romania free.